H-E-B announced Tuesday a pay increase for all of its hourly workers, the largest bump in the century-long history of the San Antonio-based company.

The boost in pay comes after H-E-B ended its Texas Proud Pay program on June 21 to kick off a more long-term, permanent pay structure for the grocer’s nonmanagement employees, who include store staff and manufacturing and supply chain workers.

The company also committed to increasing the pay, perks, and benefits for all employees.

H-E-B was one of the first retailers in San Antonio to launch a temporary bonus program during the coronavirus crisis, increasing pay by $2 per hour, said company spokeswoman Julie Bedingfield.

The new pay increases are not similar across-the-board stipends, but beyond stating that the raises represented “the largest investment in pay in the history of H-E-B,” Bedingfield declined to offer specifics, explaining that the calculations involve “several contributing factors.”

On Thursday, Walmart announced it was giving its hourly workers in Texas a special cash bonus in their paychecks, the third such bonus Walmart has paid out in the past three months. Full-time hourly associates and drivers will receive a $300 bonus, part-time hourly and temporary associates $150, and assistant managers $400.

Starting in early March, the crisis put grocery stores at the front lines of providing food and staples to a public ordered to stay home and stay safe from a virus spreading rapidly around the world. With the supply chain interrupted, hoarding rampant, and stores implementing social distancing rules, customers often stood in lines that wrapped around H-E-B stores and decried purchase limits and empty shelves.

Meanwhile, H-E-B also ramped up its efforts to support the San Antonio Food Bank as unemployment skyrocketed, leaving thousands in need, and installed plexiglass shields at checkout stands in all its stores to help prevent the spread of the virus.

H-E-B workers, as with those in other commercial outlets, have not been spared by the highly contagious virus. The company has reported employees testing positive for coronavirus in dozens of its San Antonio stores, all across the city. 

But H-E-B is one of the few private companies revealing that information, Bedingfield said, which can be found on each store’s website. “It’s important for us to be transparent for our customers. We are making information on partner positives at store locations available on the store’s webpage and are one of the few companies making this information public.”

Unlike the Texas Proud Pay program, the new pay increase for hourly workers is permanent.  

“We believe this crisis will be around for an indeterminate amount of time and our goal is to reward our partners for their hard work and dedication with more than temporary bonuses,” Bedingfield said.

Widespread reports that H-E-B was extending its Texas Proud Pay bonus program were inaccurate, she said, leading to a company announcement Wednesday morning stating that the program had ended.

Disclosure: H-E-B is a Rivard Report business member. For a full list of supporters, click here.

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Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.